My window on the world

For a former suburbanite, living in the city is full of surprises.

"Did you see that?" my husband called from the bedroom on Saturday. We were in the middle of Boston's annual "moving weekend" for about 150,000 college students. It's a wild time - cars, vans, and U-Hauls double- and triple-parked in the streets; and desks, chairs, bookcases, and lamps dumped on sidewalks by new tenants waiting to claim their apartments, or discarded by old tenants moving out.

It resembled a modern dance production without a choreographer. For the students and parents, the process was sometimes frustrating. But those of us who were observers had a front-row seat at an amusing play.

What my spouse noticed across our alley was two girls on their third-floor balcony. They were dwarfed by a gray recliner, left behind by the fellow who lived there before. They called out, "Is anyone down there?" Then they shoved the chair off the balcony onto a mounting pile of trash below.

This stack of refuse grew to six feet high and 15 feet wide, as four apartments were vacated. It contained about anything you'd need for everyday living, including four mattresses and a dresser.

All weekend we watched as people wandered down the alley - stopping at similar piles and carting off the best stuff. It was interesting to observe what different scavengers considered "valuable."

When we moved to the city, one of the advantages we'd anticipated was the availability of a wide range of entertainment. Little did we know that we wouldn't necessarily have to buy a ticket. Sometimes, all we need to do is open the curtains.

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